WELLINGTON, Fl., March 21, 2017---Audi, despite losing its first two games of the USPA Gold Cup, is one victory away from the final at International Polo Club Palm Beach.
Playing in only its second game of its 2017 season debut at IPC, Audi (Marc Ganzi, Tomas Pieres, Gonzalito Pieres and Rodrigo Andrade) dropped an 11-8 decision to Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Julian de Lusaretta, Julio Arellano, Miguel Novillo Astrada) in Sunday’s featured game on Engel & Volkers Field.
Audi also lost its tournament-opener to Orchard Hill, 8-7.
Audi will now regroup for Wednesday’s semifinal against undefeated Valiente (2-0) at 5 p.m. In the opening semifinal, Orchard Hill (1-1) plays Coca-Cola (1-1) at 2:30 p.m. The winners advance into Sunday’s final at 3 p.m.
Against Coca-Cola, Audi dug itself an early hole falling behind 4-1 in the opening chukker and 6-2 midway through the second chukker before clawing its way back in the third chukker to take a 6-5 halftime lead.
In one of several key plays for Audi in the third chukker, Andrade stole the ball and raced to goal while Ganzi took Astrada out of a defensive play.
In the first half, Audi suffered at the penalty line, converting only 1-of 4 penalty shots. Audi was 5-of-8 from the field. Coca-Cola dominated the throw-ins, 10-4.
After a pep talk with its coach and former 10-goaler Memo Gracida, Coca-Cola regained its composure and got hot again in the fourth chukker. Astrada scored a quick goal to open the chukker and Coca-Cola went on to outscore Audi 4-0 to take a 9-6 lead.
Audi, the victim of bad bounces, stuck divot balls and unforced errors, tried to work its way back in the game but could get no closer than three goals.
Gonzalito Pieres led Audi scoring with four goals. Andrade and Tomas Pieres each had two goals.
In the final game stats, Audi scored on 7-of-13 shots from the field and Coca-Cola scored 10-of-17. Audi continues to struggle at the penalty and was 1-of-4 in penalty conversions. Coca-Cola was 1-of-3. Coca-Cola committed seven fouls and Audi had a relatively clean game with only three fouls. Coca-Cola dominated the throw-ins, 18-9.
Arellano was named MVP. De Lusaretta scored a game-high six goals including four in the first chukker. His horse, Cream, was Best Playing Pony.
In the other Sunday game, Valiente defeated Orchard Hill for a hardfought 14-10 victory to take first place. Matias Torres Zavaleta and Diego Cavanagh each had five goals. Facundo Pieres scored all 10 of Orchard Hill’s goals, including 6-of-6 from the penalty line.
The USPA Gold Cup is the second jewel in polo’s Triple Crown in the U.S. and second 26-goal tournament at IPC. It was established in 1974 at Oak Brook Polo Club in Oak Brook, Ill. and also featured four teams.
Grand Champions Polo Club-based pro team Audi last won the USPA Gold Cup in 2015 with Marc and Grant Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Rodrigo Andrade and Fred Mannix, 16-15 winners over Orchard Hill. Audi was runner-up to Dubai (Rashid Albwardy, Alejo Taranco, Facundo Sola, Adolfo Cambiaso) last year.
The tournament is being live-streamed on the USPA Polo Network at uspolo.org with content provided by production company and Wellington-based ChukkerTV. All games will also be available for on-demand viewing.
Rated No. 1 by Consumer Reports as the best auto brand overall, Audi is a valued sponsor with a rich winning tradition in polo. The German automobile manufacturer designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles throughout the world including West Palm Beach.
Grand Champions Polo Club caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels. Its’ expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its’ Polo On Demand program, the only polo club in the U.S. to offer the unique program.
The Polo School at Grand Champions, a 501c3 organization, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through June and September through November.
2017 GRAND CHAMPIONS WINTER SCHEDULE
(Subject to change because of weather and scheduling conflicts).
MARCH: Madelon Bourdieu Memorial (6 goal), Limited Edition 8-Goal Series; Top Pony 12-Goal Series.
MARCH 17-APRIL 1, Molina Cup (20 goal):Thursday, 4 p.m., Dutta Corp vs. Travieso; March 24, Friday, Valiente vs. Goose Creek, 11 a.m.; March 26, Sunday, Travieso vs. Casablanca, 10 a.m.; March 29, Wednesday, Semfinal Game One, March 30,Thursday, Semifinal Game Two, April 1, Final; Santa Rita Abierto (Subs. Handicap).
Women’s League, every Wednesday, 10 and 11 a.m.
APRIL 1-15: $100,000 World Cup Tournament (0-26 Goals), winner-take-all, single- elimination.
APRIL 1-25: Las Acacias (4-8 Goals).
APRIL 5-8: WCT Finals, Women’s Polo Week and Celebration of Sunny Hale’s Life.
GRAND CHAMPIONS POLO CLUB
WHERE: 13444 Southfields Road, on the corner of South Shore Boulevard and Lake Worth Road, Wellington, 33414.
INFORMATION: For spectators, there are great field side views for tournament action and also the Grand Champions Polo Club Boutique. The club is home base for pro teams Audi, Flexjet and Casablanca. Everyone is welcome to watch every level of polo in a relaxed atmosphere that includes food and refreshments during the featured games of the winter, spring and fall tournament seasons and other special events. Admission is free except for some special events.